The soundtrack? Gwen Stefani. The jeans? Impractically baggy. TV stylist and former personal shopper Judy Berger returns to her hometown of Leeds following a whirlwind few years in London. It was there amongst the local dos (and proper brews) that an idea came to fruition. “I’d always found the High Street pretty homogeneous,” said Judy. “No matter how savvy you thought you shopped, you always ended up looking the same.” An idea at the core of her very first business (the online swap-shop ‘What’s Mine Is Yours’) Judy had always looked to vintage as an exciting alternative, drawn by the unique stories each piece could tell. “I loved the idea that each piece had lived – and that this saga shouldn’t stop with us. By reusing, reworking and reframing these items we could give each a new lease of life.”
“Back then, it felt very literal,” says Judy. With the average ‘vintage event’ less ‘Velvet Underground’ and a lot more ‘Vera Lynn,’ you were more likely to come away with war memorabilia than an outfit to be worn on the club scene. “I just wanted to create an event which my friends and I would want to go to - to find pieces which wouldn’t break the bank.” Gathering like-minded contacts from all over the UK with a love of affordable vintage fashion and homes, the first eponymous event - Judy’s Vintage Fair - took place in 2005. Setting up shop in Leeds University Union, the music was loud, the items affordable (and personally, we’ve never looked back since).
And we’ve packed a lot in over the years; whether curating the 60th anniversary of The Festival of Britain or setting up sustainable marketplaces nationwide, standing still just isn’t our thing. Featured in Vogue, Elle, The Telegraph and The Times (and a favourite of the likes of Florence Welch and Jennifer Saunders - be still our beating hearts), our operation grew significantly in 2009 with the founding of The Vintage Kilo Sale, and in 2010 The Vintage Furniture Flea joined the family. With hundreds of events now spanning the UK, you’ll always know you’re at one of ours by our diverse traders and affordable stock (and the good natter you have on the door - we’re from Yorkshire after all).
But we believe in the power of vintage now more than ever. We believe that style is eternal and your clothes should be too and by shopping from the past, we can be kind to the future (whilst still looking pretty fly in the process).
Fifteen years on and we’re still a female-run business, with a female founder at the helm (if you’re reading this Judy, hello!). We believe that representation in business is not novelty but need, and we believe it is our differences which add value to the mix.
We believe in helping young people start brilliant careers, working with so many talented individuals over the years. We believe working in the fashion industry should not scare or exclude, emphasizing the fun and never the fierce.
We might sound little ‘League of Gentleman’ here, but we believe in never forgetting your roots. We’re a local brand with global ambition, and our West Yorkshire home informs our values.
We also know that trends may come and go, but kindness never goes out of fashion; over the years, we’ve been proud to support charities and causes close to our hearts, from AgeUK to school projects in Sierra Leone.
We believe that style is eternal and that your clothes and homes should be too. By shopping from the past, we can be kind to the future and help stop the impact of fast fashion and throw away homewares on our planet. We are also committed to cutting out plastic through every step of our process. From potato starch bags to reducing our packaging, please bear with us as we get to work. We’ll of course keep you posted on our progress.
Call us soft but we’re dead romantic and believe that our wardrobes have a history too; that if our clothes could talk, they’d be holding court, regaling us with their stories (some probably not PG). Those stories must not end with you. Once you and an item are ready to part ways, remodel it, re-purpose it or simply pass it on and let the saga continue. Each year, 350,0000 tonnes of clothing goes to landfill in the UK and so we all have a part to play. Look out for content on our social channels to show the best way to keep your pieces going.